Photo: Indiana Pacers' Paul George, right, attempts to score over Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard during their NBA pre-season game dubbed NBA Global Games Thursday Oct. 10, 2013, at the Mall of Asia Arena at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. The Rockets won 116-96, in the first NBA game in this basketball-crazy Southeast Asian nation which is part of the NBA's global schedule that will have eight teams play in six countries this month.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Maybe there owere just a good number of Laker fans in attendance. Perhaps, it was a testament to how Filipinos keep abreast of NBA-related storylines. It could be that people have just gotten tired of his shtick. Whatever it was, it didn’t go unnoticed.
Yes, the boos and the jeers were loud and clear halfway around the world from the burned bridges in Los Angeles and Orlando. And Dwight Howard may not have made it look like it affected him, but his play suggested otherwise.
Ok, so maybe Roy Hibbert, who looked like he wanted to prove a point against who is widely considered the best center in the league—pushing, shoving, holding, and sending away three of Howard’s attempts, had more to do with Howard’s final stat line of 9 points on 4-11 shooting, along with 3 rebounds and 5 fouls than the boos and “Kobe” chants.
And it could very well then be that a preseason game in early October in the Philippines won’t matter much to the lofty goals of this Houston Rockets team. But what did that one game show us about Dwight Howard and his latest team?
He Looks Healthy
Yes, despite the final stat line, Howard looked good moving around the floor. Early in the game when the Rockets came out of the gates and built a lead, Howard single-handedly caused three defensive stops in a row. What was impressive about that stretch was that he didn’t appear to be doing anything outside of being himself—bodying Hibbert, displaying active hands, and sliding into proper defensive position to help recovering teammates.
All signs point to those things being the one constant for a healthy Howard. He may never have the most refined post game, and may rely on that lefty running hook and dishes from his teammates for offense, but an injury-free Howard’s impact on the defensive end is a given.
He Will Get His Touches
One of the Rockets’ most run sets during the Global Games in Manila found both James Harden and Chandler Parsons stationed at opposite corners before using flare screens to get the ball on the wings for open looks or opportunities to attack their recovering defenders.
Harden got the ball most of the time during those sets, but Parsons was impressive with his off the ball movement, and the combination of Harden being a threat from anywhere on floor coupled with Parsons constant probing of the defense with his cutting, gave Howard single coverage when he posted up. If it weren’t one of the better centers in the league checking him, Howard would’ve certainly had a better chance of taking advantage.
It’s hard to fathom that a specimen with Howard’s physical gifts won’t benefit from the tutelage of two of the best post players the world has seen in Rockets coach Kevin McHale and legendary big man Hakeem Olajuwon.
And despite a tumultuous season last year that saw him produce at a rate similar to his third year in the league, and a gradual dip in his production nearly across the board since the 2010-2011 season, he will still be only turning 28 in December—when professional basketball players normally enter their primes.
He may have escaped the daily pressure from the probing Los Angeles media, but if the Global Games in Manila was any indication, the world will be watching how this latest chapter in the Dwight Howard saga is going to unfold.